While much of us are rightfully focused on the Black Lives Matter movement and protests taking place across the country this week (be sure to read our post yesterday from Dan Volpone, as well as Tobias Harris’ article today in The Players’ Tribune), the NBA continues to hammer out the details on a return to play. Adam Silver and the league office have reportedly decided upon the proposed structure, which will presumably be approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors tomorrow.
The NBA's Board of Governors has a 12:30 PM ET call on Thursday with the intention of approving the league's plan for a 22-team return-to-play in Orlando, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/Sh7k6ylCdz— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 3, 2020
The top 22 teams — the 16 current playoff teams, New Orleans, Portland, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Washington — will each play eight more regular season games. After which, there may or may not be a play-in tournament for the eighth seeds, based upon the following criteria (Note: Shams’ tweet below has a typo — the 8th seed automatically earns the spot if the 9th seed is “more than” four games back):
Play-in tournament in NBA's 22-team format would only be for 8th seed, per sources:— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 3, 2020
- If 9th seed is 4 or more games back, 8th seed earns spot
- If 9th seed is 4 or fewer games behind, play-in: Single-elimination for 9th seed, double-elimination for 8th.https://t.co/d7X3X6d1p8
From the Sixers’ perspective, the team has eight games to jockey for position with Miami and Indiana. Two games behind Miami and with the Heat already holding a 3-1 regular season tiebreaker advantage (will one of the eight regular season games be a fifth contest against Miami?), it seems unlikely Philadelphia can make up three games across that eight-game span. Indiana and Philadelphia currently have identical records, with the Pacers holding the tiebreaker by virtue of their 2-1 regular season record against the Sixers (the remaining eight-game schedule could actually be vital here then). Of course, home-court advantage in a 4 vs. 5 matchup isn’t as important when all teams are playing a bubble environment, but a Miami/Milwaukee playoff path is certainly different than Boston/Toronto.
Additionally, we still don’t know how the league will approach the topic of draft order, which is of significance to the Sixers in relation to the Oklahoma City pick. Since eight NBA teams won’t even be participating in this “mini-season” in Orlando, will the league lock draft order based upon the pre-suspension standings? Or will these final eight regular season games factor into the draft? With top-20 protection on that Oklahoma City pick, Philadelphia fans could potentially have more rooting interest in the Thunder winning across these final eight regular season games than their own Sixers.
So while we still have plenty of questions, some definitive things look to be answered by the NBA. We’ll find out more in the coming days, but for now, July 31 can’t come soon enough.
So the NBA's inviting 22 teams to Orlando: 13 Western Conference, 9 Eastern Conference. Eight-regular season games per team. Play-in for the 8th seeds. July 31-October 12. Vote tomorrow to ratify.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 3, 2020
The NBA's back.